From quick Starbucks meetings to conference room panels, being an engaging, friendly, conversational person will serve you well in all facets of your professional life. It’s completely normal to feel nervous going into interviews. However, if you master the art of conversation, you’ll be able to stand out from other applicants. Keep reading for five excellent conversation starters for job interviews.
Top Conversation Starters For Job Interviews
Being well-read and familiar with the news in general is a great way to set you apart from others, even in casual settings with your peers. Take the time to educate yourself about common subject areas like sports, politics, and pop culture, and try to remember some interesting facts that you can later repeat. Avoid saying anything biased or controversial (especially if you bring up anything political). Overall, being able to intelligently speak about current events is a surefire way to avoid talking about the weather.
Family or Hobby-Related Activities
Does your interviewer have pictures of their family, inspirational quotes, or general memorabilia of something that looks like a hobby of theirs in their office? Try to strike up a conversation about one of these items, just make sure you sound friendly and genuinely interested. If you get the interviewer going on a topic of importance, then he or she will get excited about talking to you. You don’t want to sound like a brown-noser, but they’ll likely appreciate the fact that you’re both cordial and inquisitive.
The Company Itself
It’s always a smart idea to keep your conversation, even the initial cues, relevant to the matter at hand: the position and company for which you are interviewing. The interviewer might open the floor to questions you have pre-interview, which is a great way for you to jump in with creative versions of “What is your favorite part about working here?” — such as “What is the most pleasantly surprising thing about working here?” or “Do you think your life would be different if you were working elsewhere?” Always come armed with questions for the interviewer!
Move beyond the specific company and your interviewer’s personal experience. Talking about the general industry in which you’re interviewing is also fair game. If you want to keep it focused on your interviewer, you can ask him or her things like, “How long have you been working in X industry?” or “What inspired you to pursue X industry?” Remember, people generally like talking about themselves, and your interviewer will probably light up and provide some anecdotes in response to these questions.
We’re not suggesting you break out cheesy jokes to kick off the interview — but it’s okay to casually, conversationally, and appropriately joke with your interviewer. Funny initiations can set a tone of positivity and ease for the entire conversation. You can issue casual, funny questions and statements to keep the mood light.
As far as general tips go, remember not to monopolize any conversation, and remember to read your interviewer as well. If he or she seems uninterested with whatever topic you brought up, drop it and move on. The subject matter of the conversation isn’t the important part; rather, what’s vital is showing them you are friendly, proactive, alert, and genuine.
Don’t stress too much about the icebreaker — and keep these ideas handy so you can channel your energy and focus into the interview itself.